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Bukan

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  • Japanese: 武鑑 (bukan)

Bukan (lit. "Military Mirrors") were guidebooks published and popularly available in the Edo period describing prominent samurai households.

Though scholars generally assume publishers to have obtained the necessary information from the Tokugawa shogunate itself, Peter Kornicki points out that in 1844, the shogunate asked two publishers what their sources were - a strong indication that their sources were not, in fact, the shogunate. The two publishers, Subaraya Mohei and Izumoji Bunjirô, revealed that observing comings & goings at the gates to Edo castle played a large role in their collection of information. Daimyô households are, further, known to have occasionally paid publishers to be included in a more prominent place in these guides, i.e. earlier in the order of the listing of houses.

As with maps, the purchase and use of bukan by foreigners, and most especially their export, was forbidden, as the contents were considered sensitive information.

References

  • Peter Kornicki, "New Books for Old," Monumenta Nipponica 62:1 (2007), 99.
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